What Made Love Warrior a Best-Selling Memoir?
A Free Webinar Monday, April 17, 4 PM PDT/7 PM EDT
With Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers of WriteYourMemoirInSixMonths.com
To sign up, Click here: http://writeyourbookinsixmonths.com/love-warrior-free-webinar
In Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton has written about emotional pain in a way that most memoirists struggle with. She grapples with addiction, painful insecurities, her husband’s infidelity, maternal overwhelm, and questions about her own lack of sex drive. Tackling a single one of these issues is tough; to expose all of them and handle them with care requires bravery and skill.
In this free webinar, memoir experts Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner will address the fears that invariably come up for writers who want to write their deepest truths and expose their most intimate—and often shameful—secrets. The webinar will address the fallouts of such naked writing—and talk about how sharing your truth has a way of both leveling everything and setting you free.
During this Free Webinar You Will Learn:
The hard truths—how to share them, why to share them, and what the consequences are for you, the writer, and the story if you don’t.
Intentional omission. What did Glennon leave out? How did this impact the story and her readers?
How to tackle hard themes, and the balance a memoir must strike when you’re sharing the intimate details of your sometimes-messy life.
Whether the fallout is worth it. A look at the repercussions of writing a memoir, how to determine your tolerance for other people’s reactions, and ways to know whether the timing is right, and if you can weather the possible consequences.
To sign up, Click here: http://writeyourbookinsixmonths.com/love-warrior-free-webinar
FREE Memoir Webinar June 1 at 4pm PT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET
Is Memoir on Your Bucket List?
Have you been thinking of writing a memoir, but aren’t sure if you should, how your family will react, or where to start? These are typical places where people hesitate about writing their story. But you can get help for all these problems.
I am excited to join with my colleague Brooke Warner again to offer you a free webinar this next Monday, June 1 that addresses the places where people who want to write typically get stuck. It doesn’t help either when other writers broadcast that you have to be well known, or an experienced writer to write your own story.
Take it from us—and we have coached over 150 people in our Write Your Memoir in Six Months classes—all you need is the desire to write and be willing to jump into the project you have always been meaning to do: write your story, share the family stories you know so well, help others learn from your wisdom and life experience.
The details are below. Hope to see you on the call!
FREE webinar June 1 at 4pm PT | 6pm CT | 7pm ET
Is Memoir on Your Bucket List?
If so, let this be the year you make it happen! This free 1-hour is a celebration of the memoir phenomenon, and an exploration of why now is a fantastic time to start and/or finish your memoir.
What we’ll be covering:
• The reasons why people write memoir.
One that we encounter often in the baby boomer generation is the desire to leave a legacy for the family. Maybe you want to explore who you were forty years ago, and to go deeper into your experience to sort out who you were and what your dreams were, and how you evolved into who you became. Another reason people write memoir is to find a way to tell a story that no one has ever told before—about themselves, about an experience. Do you have a story that’s full of inspiration? That might help or inform others? What are your stories? We invite you to consider this question and explore with us.
• Understanding what memoir is.
There is still, amazingly, a lot of discussion about who should and shouldn’t write a memoir; whether people who aren’t likely to get picked up by a big publisher should bother to write. There is speculation that there is too much memoir being written now, and that somehow it’s reserved for people who have a “valuable” story to tell, which immediately puts a judgment on memoir. We know that each story is valuable. Each story has something to offer the reader. In our classes we teach about how to engage your readers, and refine what you’re writing, but first you need to get clear on what you have to share with the world.
• 5 solid strategies for getting started.
Every writer is different and every story needs a beginning. But do you know where to start? Or maybe you’ve started, and you need some tips for getting restarted? These strategies work for that too. We will discuss the ways that you can begin and develop your memoir. We’ll give you pointers for ways to sort out your hundreds of thousands of memories into your story—with themes, turning points, and lessons for the reader.
• Success stories
Many of the writers we work with have finished their memoirs. Some have found agents, while others have gone on to publish their work with publishers or on their own. Many are working on their final revisions. Writing a memoir is an ongoing creative process that’s demanding at times, and other writers’ stories are often the inspiration and push you need to believe that you can do it too. We’ve worked with students who didn’t consider themselves “writers,” who learned the techniques of good writing and developed their craft and now fully own that title. When they sign with a publishing company or win prizes—as many of our authors have—we celebrate in their success. Writing a memoir does not have to be a dream you have, something you hope you might do one day; it can be a reality!
Hope to see you on the call!
40 years of journals–a sample
As you can see in the photo, I have years of journals to draw from as I write my new memoir about transformation in the 60s and 70s! When I wrote Don’t Call Me Mother, I didn’t use journals, as most of what I had to write about happened long before I started journaling. However, there were a few entries about my mother’s death that were helpful–sometimes we don’t want to remember everything! But for most of writing that memoir, I wanted to draw upon memory as my method and context.
Writing now from my more recent past, a time when I underwent major changes and development is different–and I’m finding the journals illuminating–even surprising. So that’s what I was thinking when I was thirty years old! I knew a lot, and I knew nothing. I see that my choice of journals were workaday lined notebooks where I could write messy and fast. What is your favorite style of journal?
Do you like that delicious feeling of holding a brand new journal and a new pen to go with it as you sit down to write? As you hold it, perhaps you imagine what you are going to write and feel the invitation of the paper and the pen. Some people are journaling online now too, which has a certain appeal to, a safe place complete with locked password. But for many of us, there is something seductive and wonderful about cracking up that new journal. Whatever your method, in your journal you’re inviting the words lead you to new places within yourself as you explore your thoughts, feelings, and your life story.
Most of the writers I work with come to memoir writing from having journaled for many years. I remember how some women in my workshops talk about the boxes of journals they’ve hidden in their closets. One woman says, “What will I do if my children find them. Should I shred them now?”
Another one answers, “I want to save my journals so I can draw upon them as I write my memoir.”
Yes, therein lies the dilemma that both journalers and memoir writers have in common: “How do I feel about other people reading my private thoughts and feelings?”
But there is an important difference—we write our journal in an atmosphere of privacy, not for other people to read. In a journal, we write freely, exploring our psyches, digging deep to try to understand ourselves more, seeking peace, transformation, resolution. Sometimes we need to rant, we need to make lists of what we love or hate, we need to write letters that we don’t send, we need to express anger, fear, joy, sorrow, ecstasy, hope. We write to find out what we think, inviting the flow of words to emerge from us in whatever way they wish.
To write a memoir, we need to invite that same kind of free writing at times, to get the juices flowing, but a memoir is written ultimately to be shared with readers. We need to shape our stories, thoughts, and narration so readers can see, hear and feel the world we create on the page. We draw upon fictional tools of description, scenes, character development and sensual details to bring the reader close to our experiences. As memoir writers, we need to learn these tools for creating that world and keep the reader in it. John Gardner calls it “the fictive dream” in his book The Art of Fiction—and the same idea applies to memoir, which reads like a novel—only everything is true!
I advise all my students of memoir writing to dig back into journal writing to keep the flow going, to explore their memories without being self-conscious of the structure and style. In the early stages, your memoir is being assembled, dreamed, quilted together and you need to allow that process to unfold.
This week at the National Association of Memoir Writers member teleseminar, we’re so pleased to speak with a journaling expert Dr. Jackie Swensen. She is going to talk about self-discovery through memoir writing, and bring her considerable skills as a therapist and avid journaler to all of us. Please join us!
In the meantime, keep your journal handy. Or go out and buy a new one! Enjoy filling those empty pages. Now, back to my research in my inky, messy but oh so informative journals!
I look at this photo of my mother, age 30, as I lay somewhat untethered in her lap. It’s before everything happens, before my father leaves her, before she leaves me. It’s the beginning of our story. There we are, innocent of the future, and unknown to both of us, we are part of a pattern that will continue. When I’m four, she will leave me with her mother. My mother was left behind too, and this legacy will haunt us to the end of their lives.
One word. It’s just a word: “mother,” but it’s never a neutral word—it’s always imbued with emotional meaning. Each of us has a story about her, each of us is somewhere on a path of dealing with the person we know as mother.
As Mother’s Day approaches, pink flowery cards spring up like gardens in every store saying things like, “Who is the person who always listened to you, the one you could always count on—Mom! Celebrate her today.”
Some people feel that their mother is their best friend, with no doubts about her loyalty and her abiding love, and Mother’s Day can make some people feel celebratory while others feel sad, angry, and confused. I was one of those in the second group. My stomach would begin to ache as Mother’s Day approached, and despite my intentions to ignore it or find a neutral card, I’d remember things I wanted to forget: my mother leaving on the train after her once a year visit to me and my grandmother. Another part of me wanted her to leave, because the visits were fraught with conflict between her and her mother. Sometimes my heart would soften toward my mother as I thought of her being motherless. I knew how that felt.
As an adult, after my mother made it clear that she wanted no one to know I was her daughter—my memoir Don’t Call Me Mother: A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness is the story of the mothers in my family—I was left with two feelings: to change her mind and PROVE that I was worthy for my mother to love and claim me—thus the need to find the “right” card. Or perhaps that year I’d feel like expressing my anger at her abandonments refusing to send her a card. Which was right? Was it being a small-minded person to refuse to send my own mother a card? After all, she had birthed me, she was indeed my mother, even if she felt conflicted about it. I knew that in every day life, her mother was my “mother” in the sense of she was the one who took me to the doctor, tucked me in, got me to do my homework, bought my clothes, and encouraged my development. So I had two mothers, really. When my grandmother was alive, and we were speaking—things were complicated between us as well—I would send her a Mother’s Day card, as I did an aunt who mothered me, and a friend who had taken the role of mother for many years. So the motherless me adopted several mothers.
I’ve been a therapist for over thirty-five years, and during this time I’ve encountered many emotional “orphans.” Some people feel motherless because they grow up with very distant mothers, mothers who are distracted or sick, mothers who have too many children, or who start off well with mothering but then become overwhelmed or have other interests, or have a stressful marriage, or no marriage at all. There are so many stories about mothers—and each mother has her own story as well about who her model of mothering was and the challenges she faced as a person.
It seems to me the best way we can manage the complexities about “mother” is not to remain in judgment of our mothers, no matter how hard that is. If we can find a way to stand in her shoes, and to learn who she was before she was a mother, we may find ourselves seeing her as a whole person, someone who had her own life, her own struggles and problems to solve.
It doesn’t work in the deep mining of memories and the past to pass over the true feelings we may have, even if they are dark. I had to learn this over and over again. First, we may need to speak out or write out the raw truth of how we feel—now and in the past, the good and the bad. We may need to scream or cry or write poetry, stomp around or simply sit still with a range of insights and feelings we discover on our journey to healing.
There may come a time when we can look into the face of the girl or young woman “mother” was long before she knew of us, when she was simply herself. You may visit her, or simply look at a photograph—and pause to get to know her, thinking of the possibilities and hopes she might have had for her life, how she wanted her life to turn out. You may have this information, or you might need to imagine it based on what you know.
As a memoirist, I encourage people to write the stories that beckon, the untold stories, the secret stories. And yes, you can write a story through your mother’s eyes, become her, and see her world. Think of the era she grew up in, the clothes she wore, the political and historical demands on her life and write from her point of view. Look at the photographs and write TO her, share what you think and understand now. And write about that word, “mother.” See how it speaks to you.
In honor of Mother’s day, my eBook Don’t Call Me Mother is on sale for .99–just for today!
Video: Judy Mandel and I talk about Discovering our Mothers through Writing Memoir.
I’ m so pleased to be a guest with Julia McCutcheon as a guest presenter May 8, 2014 International Association of Conscious and Creative Writers.
We are going to talk about how to become a conscious writer, and the ways that memoir can be transformational journey.
Are you writing a memoir? Prepare for an amazing and inspiring journey into your legacies and soul journey.
Memoir writing draws on all aspects of who we are— body, mind and soul. We are challenged to dig deep, to remember, and once again inhabit the skin of who we were and what we have learned. Writing a memoir is an act of testimony, witnessing, healing. When you write a memoir, you draw upon layers of your consciousness and discover your true nature, your essential self, and are transformed by the process.
For every journey into the unknown you need guides and skills—and a little magic—to make the discoveries that will enhance your life. In memoir writing these skills are guiding principles that help you create a great story.
In this interview you will learn:
- How to find the turning points that illuminate the themes of your memoir.
- How to create scenes that bring your story alive—and why you need scenes.
- What the various narrators do in your story to manage time and guide the reader.
- Find the themes that will hook your reader into turning the pages.
- How writing your authentic truths will free you from the past.
- That memoir is a path of transformation and healing—for you and your readers.